The call is fraudulent impersonation, the name of the grandchild typically obtained from social media postings, and any money wired out of the country is gone forever.
The victim sometimes believes he can cheat the con artists out of their money, but anyone trying this has already fallen for the essential con by believing that the money is there to steal (see also Black money scam).
Note that the classic Spanish Prisoner trick also contains an element of the romance scam (see below).
The con actively cultivates a romantic relationship which often involves promises of marriage.
However, after some time, it becomes evident that this Internet "sweetheart" is stuck in his or her home country or a third country, lacking the money to leave and thus unable to be united with the mark.
The mark cannot go to the authorities without revealing that he has committed tax fraud.
Many swindles involve a minor element of crime or some other misdeed.
A more modern variation is to use laser-printed counterfeit cheques with the proper bank account numbers and payer information.
Persuasion fraud, when fraudsters persuade people only to target their money, is an old-fashioned type of fraud.
The scam then becomes an advance-fee fraud or a check fraud.